“Run Hide Fight”: #SMEM During the Ohio State University Attack

When a then-unidentified man used his vehicle as a weapon on the campus of the Ohio State University Monday, then got out of it and attacked people with a knife, authorities acted quickly: both the first responders who stopped the violence within minutes and school officials responsible for ensuring the safety of students, faculty, staff […]

Recovering from Disaster: 5 Communication Strategies

Brandon and I spent decades preparing for and responding to all manner of critical incidents and disasters as federal public information officers. When we weren’t preparing or responding, we were teaching others to prepare and respond. When we weren’t preparing or responding or teaching others to prepare and respond, we were getting phone calls, emails […]

11 Preparedness Tips for Atlantic Hurricane Season

Atlantic hurricane season started today and lasts through November 30. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is predicting that there is a 70 percent chance for 10-16 named storms this year, with 1-4 of them being major hurricanes. If you live and work near the U.S. east or gulf coasts, or in the Caribbean, you should […]

Managing Negativity and Rumors During Crisis

A 9/11 researcher interviewed me the other day to ask questions about my personal and professional experience in Manhattan on that day. At one point, we talked a bit about the phenomenon of people coming up with alternate theories about the terrorist attacks. OK. I’ll just say it: He wanted to know what I think […]

Crisis and Risk Communication and the Flint Water Crisis

I have to assume (from the fact that you’re reading this blog) that you, too, have been following the Flint, Mich., water crisis (#FlintWaterCrisis is a good place to start, if not). It has been changing every day and is a textbook example of a crisis and risk communication case study: a mid-sized, mostly poor, […]

Talking Points are a Guide, Not a Script

A public information officer colleague returned from a recent disaster incident deployment and gave me the lowdown on how the job went. Turned out it could’ve been better! A particular low point for my friend came when he was demobilizing and had a short exit interview/debrief with the incident commander, focusing on his team’s contributions. […]